No Foolin’: Marie Prevost Marathon April 16th on TCM!

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Some exciting news from the world of lost silents: Courtesy Rhett Bartlett on Twitter and David Hudson’s Daily, news that EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam has discovered more silent films that were either thought lost or existed only in poor and incomplete prints. The L.A. Times article is here, and the entire list of films is here. Keen-eyed observers will note the Mack Sennett short “The Village Chestnut” (1918) is among the films. This has long been considered lost, though with the bog standard “it’s probably in an archive somewhere” rumors, which for once turned out to be right. Marie Prevost may be one of the Bathing Beauty extras, along with Phyllis Haver and Harriet Hammond, and it’ll be a real treat to finally have a chance to see this short. Above: Promotional still from “The Village Chestnut” (1918). The brown-haired girl in the far back may be Marie Prevost; compare to this famous portrait of Marie from about that time: And even more good news! TCM is hosting a day-long, eight-film Marie Prevost marathon on April 16th! Why April 16th? Why only one silent film and no Mack Sennett shorts? And why does this have to happen after I’ve had to give up cable because I can no longer afford it? No man can say. But let’s not look a gift marathon in the mouth; we should just enjoy what we’ve got, because what we’ve got is good. Here’s the low-down on all the Marie films being shown. All times … Continue reading

Marie Prevost in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

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Just under 16 minutes into The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), at Harry Pebbel’s office, the George Hurrell portrait of Marie Prevost can be seen above Harry’s fireplace, to the top center on this screencap, just over Walter Pidgeon’s shoulder: (Also: Heh heh, the statue of an eagle behind Walter gives him horns. Oh, symbolism, you are so symbolic sometimes.) The portrait dates from about 1930, and even though it’s Hurrell, an exceptionally popular photographer whose pictures are all over the internet, this particular portrait is pretty rare; I’ve only seen it on eBay twice and it never turns up in image searches. Here’s a cropped version from a publicity postcard I got a couple years ago: There’s a better version here, smaller and watermarked, and though I hate using watermarked pictures because I’m not trying to “steal” images, in this case I will make an exception. The picture has long since sold, best I can tell, but it looks exactly like the one used in the film: Update: Seems the same portrait was used for Harry’s secretary’s office, too! From about 35 minutes into the film: That Harry Pebbel guy must have sure liked Marie. And that pic to the right of the “Money Talks” poster is Robert Benchley in a picture that I at first thought was used twice. Later I realized that the Benchley photo had moved to another part of the set, seen below to the left of Kirk Douglas’ head, and the pic to the … Continue reading

State of the Blog: The Final Word on the Marie Prevost Project

This post is my detailed explanation of the brief notice I now have at the top of all my Marie Prevost Project posts. I continue to have problems with people wanting more info about Marie Prevost from me, and as much as I want to, I cannot delete my posts or even correct the mistakes in them — on the off chance there is a copyright issue in the future, I need a strong internet trail of where my posts were published and when, including leaving them as they were originally, which means keeping all my errors. Because the posts have to stay up, I decided a short blurb at the top of them would be the best, with a link leading here. The subject matter here will not be new to most SBBN regulars or anyone following me on Twitter, by the way. *** Over the years, I have received about 15 emails from people doing their own projects on Marie Prevost. Several of them have been very nice; these people are working on a documentary, some fictionalized accounts of her life, fanfic, school projects, books, and other awesome projects I fully support and wish those people the best of luck in. A couple of people sent me scans of their own stuff just to say thanks for what I had put on the blog. This is great stuff. If you fall into this category, my post here is not talking about you, please know that. The problem has … Continue reading

Marie Prevost Project: Only Yesterday (1933)

For anyone interested in doing research using these posts, please read the note at the bottom of the post. Thank you. *** One of the most terrible yet fascinating facets of Marie Prevost’s Hollywood decline is how poorly she was treated in the latter days of her career. Precious little is available about what went on behind the scenes of her films, though one can hardly watch her performances from 1930 on and not realize there was a distinct hostility toward her. Her entrance into pre-codes was the outre Party Girl (1930), an exploitation flick where her character was a ditzy, high-class prostitute, though savvy in her particular field, completely in control of her own body and career. That role was not a particularly huge step from her 1928 appearance in The Racket, both roles being women of the night, streetwise and desired, though her character is still given a respect in Racket that is noticeably absent in the midst of Party Girl’s exploitation antics. It’s impossible to see a strong female character in an exploitation flick as fully respectable, however, as silent star Mildred Davis in the execrable The Devil’s Sleep (1949) proves. She was hired solely as the butt of fat jokes, but Davis is so good-natured, funny, talented and completely unwilling to be humiliated that the jokes don’t work. Instead, her performance makes everyone seem like the rotten bastards they are, which undermines the entire concept of the film. Marie doesn’t quite achieve that sort of subversive … Continue reading

Bathing Beauty Days: Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson: Glamorous star of the cinema or victim of a horrible smear campaign designed to make her seem mortal, adorable and occasionally clad in a swimsuit, just like those harlot Sennett broads? Gloria Swanson clowning around with Phyllis Haver while on the set of The Pullman Bride (1917), absolutely not being a Bathing Beauty at all.   Gloria sulks while the Beauties yuk it up with Chester Conklin in The Pullman Bride.   Gloria Swanson’s career began when she was a teen and was given roles in a few slapstick shorts at Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay Studios. When she left Essanay, Gloria spent nearly a year out of films until hired by Keystone in 1916. She had worked with Wallace Beery at Essanay and again at Keystone, and they married in 1916 on her 17th birthday. The marriage did not last and was, by Swanson’s own account, a nightmare of abuse. Gloria and Mack Swain in The Pullman Bride; Chester looks on.   The Pullman Bride was Gloria’s final film with Keystone. She had been spotted by director Frank Borzage and cast in 1918 as the lead in his drama Society for Sale, co-starring William Desmond. Gloria always maintained she was not actually a Bathing Beauty, but rather a featured actress in Sennett comedies that also starred Bathing Beauties. More about her Bathing Beauty Days can be found at Anne Helen Petersen’s The Hairpin, which hilariously repeats the mistake that the photo of Marie Prevost on a boat helmed by … Continue reading

The Late Movies Blogathon: 10 Laps to Go (1936)

For anyone interested in using these posts for research, please read the notes at the bottom of this post. Thank you. *** This post is for shadowplay’s The Late Show: The Late Movies Blogathon. Please visit shadowplay to see more entries in this exceptional series! *** Hot shot speed demon Larry Evans (Rex Lease) has teamed up with the aging engineer Corbett (Tom Moore) for a super fast, super hot new car design he plans to drive in the big race. His rival Eddie DeSilva (Duncan Reynaldo) is an evil, evil man, as you can tell because of an accent that places him somewhere across the ocean, or perhaps south of the border. After DeSilva accuses Evans of taking advantage of the washed-up Corbett, some rousing fisticuffs ensue; they part even greater enemies than before. Tragedy strikes during the race when Larry and his co-driver Steve (Charles Delaney) are injured in a terrible crash, the result of Eddie DeSilva’s sabotage. Because he’s evil, you see. It’s somewhat surprising that Reynaldo would be cast as the stereotypical suspicious foreigner, given that this film was produced by Fanchon Royer, one of the few female producers in Hollywood and known for encouraging studios to create positive Latino/Latina characters and produce well-constructed Spanish language films. Royer worked mostly on Poverty Row, and had a reputation for putting out low budget but smartly produced product. Her films were nearly always released “state’s rights;” that is, released to smaller independent companies throughout the U.S., usually distributing … Continue reading

State of the Blog: The Projects, Publishing and Pop Stars Edition

I know what you’re thinking: “Uh oh. There aren’t any pictures in this post. That’s never good.” But wait! Before you leave for peppier climes, read this one important bit: Over the next few weeks, I will be importing a lot of posts from the old Blogger site to this one. I’ve already imported three, as those of you who read SBBN through an RSS feed already know. The dates on many of these will remain the same as on the old blog, and being backdated means they won’t show up on the front page. However, they will show up as new posts on the RSS feed, so you may get spammed. I’ll try to be responsible with the imports, but after playing around with the import/export functions, I can make you no promises. And now, very exciting updates about all manner of interesting things, i.e. the part you can skip: 1. The Projects: About a year ago, I abandoned basically all SBBN projects and other various items I was working on. It wasn’t a permanent abandonment, and most of those posts I’m bringing over from the archives are the Bette Davis and Marie Prevost projects, which I am determined to continue, though Marie will be in a limited capacity. 2. Limited Marie: I’ve never made an official announcement, and now is as good a time as any, I guess. I have been working on what will eventually be a book on Marie Prevost. Now, the kicker is that two … Continue reading

The Gone Too Soon Blogathon: Marie Prevost

Edit 07/06/2013: For anyone interested in doing their own project on Marie Prevost, please make sure to read the note at the bottom of the page. Thank you. This post originally appeared at http://www.shebloggedbynight.com/2012/03/gone-too-soon-blogathon-marie-prevost.html and a copy can be found on the Internet Archive here. *** Almost exactly one year ago, I posted my latest Marie Prevost Project article and then promptly scarpered. In the interim I managed a brief post on Nana (1926), a film Marie is not actually in, but otherwise the Project has lain dormant. Thanks to the Gone Too Soon Blogathon hosted by Comet Over Hollywood, however, Marie is back on SBBN where she belongs, and it’s time for a little history about her life. It’s 1919 and Marie Prevost has been a Bathing Beauty with Mack Sennett’s studio for four years. Her first appearance was probably in “Those Bitter Sweets,” (1915), where she can be seen, probably, as an extra in the ice cream parlor. For a while I was hesitant to commit to Marie being in “Those Bitter Sweets” because of her sister Peggy’s description of Marie’s role — she claimed Marie’s chair was a prop that busted when she sat down, and that does not happen in the film — but after discovering Peggy had a tendency to exaggerate, I’m back to believing Marie was indeed the extra in “TBS” and there was never any prop chair in the first place. In those early Sennett years, Marie appeared in plenty of sexy sexy … Continue reading